As I come in at 2 o’clock it starts to get busy for an afternoon coffee, I suppose. A lovely elderly couple enters the Antishop café in identical colourful clothes. Adel, the owner, greets them, gives a hug, and serves a croissant and a double espresso at the end. The couple is not too much talkative, but there is no need as honest smiles on their faces speak for themselves. Before leaving, a gentleman compliments Adel: “This is the best coffee ever”. Later the shop owner reveals that they have been coming to his café every day since it had been opened. Situated on the famous Brick Lane Road, The Antishop spreads anti-commercial love with its coffee and generosity.
French-born Adel after settling in London decided to open a coffee shop with the different approach to customers and materialism. Before opening The Antishop, he went to South Italy to explore different kinds of coffee, as it was essential for him to stand out of the crowd. East London is a rapidly expanding coffee hub with new cafes popping up almost every month. Adel has decided to please East Londoners with Italian roasted Guglielmo coffee, which is still very rare to find in London. Adel admits that from the first time he tried it in Calabria, he fell in love with its taste.
Italians are extremely strict when it comes to coffee. With a strong belief that they are the coffee masters, Italians tend to stick to tried-and-true recipes. Guglielmo coffee company is a perfect example of tradition and vanguard. A regional coffee company created in 1943 is well known in Italy but still invisible in London. The Antishop creates an opportunity to stop rushing in your daily routine, have a true Italian espresso from South Italy and then resume your life once the last drop is drained.
Your espresso bought in The Antishop is more than just a cup of coffee. Adel’s developed idea of the charity coffee shop means that most of the profit goes to charitable projects, such as Action Against Hunger that is one of the current partners of The Antishop. Homeless people who cannot afford to buy a cup of coffee are welcome to have it for free. Adel is not a man who is chasing for fortune, as he reveals he wishes he could give more. The reason for his deep empathy unfolds when he starts telling me about his youth.
I used to be homeless when I was 17 in France. For personal reasons I needed to leave my house. I was not an unhappy junkie homeless in the street. It was in South of France and it was warm. I don’t want to have any cliché about being a homeless guy.
This experience has clearly shaped his outlook to life and people. Adel’s fightback against materialism and commercialization of everything that surround us is The Antishop — the small stylish coffee shop that serves some great Italian coffee accompanied with simple human kindness.